Need some advice about Macbook Pros

So, grandchild thinking that she must have a Macbook Pro.

There’s not the money around to buy something new.

So, how far back and lower performance can we go?

As far as I understand it she needs – she’s doing dance just to give the academic background – to be able to play videos that show new dance steps and so on. And to be able to tape her own and then upload them.

I’ve asked, no, she doesn’t need to be able to do whizzy graphics. It’s video reality, show them, watch videos of reality.

Now, my understanding of Apple sware is that if the OS will run then anything that runs on that OS will work. It’s not like Windows where things only work grudgingly if they’ve not got 10 GB of RAM to play in.

So, she’s an iPad and a iPhone, so she can record stuff. And so what is the entry level of Macbook Pro that goes with that? uk has old (ie, 2012) boxes at £250. Then there’s a box with 1 TB hard drive, OS looks 2 steps behind today’s (Sierra maybe?). But only 4 GB RAM. Is that enough? Or is it necessary to step up to £500?

This might be wrong but my impression is that Apple’s boxes get whizzier screens, more fun keyboards etc, but the basic operating functions of video, record, play, haven’t changed much.

So, is this so?

Anyone actually know all of this?

23 thoughts on “Need some advice about Macbook Pros”

  1. Simple answer. If it has the touch bar and USB c ports, don’t buy it. It’s the worst keyboard since the zx spectrum. I had one and hated it with a passion . The last version that has a real USB port is lovely though. Nice and small and fast enough to do stuff with.

  2. Maybe worth looking at the Mac mini as she has the iPad and phone for mobile purposes then can do editing and uploading back at home.
    My son used to have one when in school as you couldn’t take a laptop then moved onto MacBook for college

  3. It’s a tricky one. MacBooks have just emerged from their dark ages. From mid-2015 to late 2018, most models had the flawed butterfly keyboard.

    The budget option is therefore a MacBook Air, 13”, post June 2013.
    If she needs bigger, go for the MacBook Pro, 15”, October 2013 onwards. Newer as money allows. Check carefully for screen damage, and that all keys on the keyboard work.

  4. Tim

    Unless she *needs* to carry the thing around, she will probably be best off with a Mac Mini and separate screen and keyboard,

    A “late 2012 Mac Mini” will run the most recent MacOS (Catalina). Look at

    .. to see some used examples. I’ve bought many used Macs from these guys – and storage – and they’re reliable and a pleasure to do business with.

    If possible, you’ll want one with an SSD rather than a hard disk. Much less frustrating.
    At least 8GB of RAM. 16G is better. If she’s going to do LOTS of videos, she might need quite a bit of storage, and big SSDs get expensive. So think about an external disk at least to hold videos – and to act as backup. You can get these at MacSales, too:

    You’ll need a screen and a keyboard and a mouse bought separately. I use a MacAlly keyboard (and mouse), but others laugh at me and spend much more. Hard to recommend a mouse, because hand shapes and sizes and personal preferences vary enormously. So get a cheapish one in case change is needed.

    If she *needs* a portable, then it’s probably best to avoid a vanilla MacBook (as opposed to a MacBook Pro); though MacBooks are available cheap at macsales, they look (I have no direct experience) to be equipped with a rather slow processor. May be good enough – mebbe just email them and ask.

    The big change in MacBook Pros is whether you can upgrade memory or not. The last one you could upgrade memory simply looks like mid-2012 models. But the ones that run the most recent OS are newer than that, so you just have to buy as much RAM and storage as you’ll ever need. Storage ain’t a problem – you should have an external drive for backup anyways, so you just store all the things which don’t fit inside the machine in an external drive. (This, of course, makes it more tedious to travel….)

    I’ve always found the 13″ MacBook Pros to be the ideal size. For real work, you hook up an external screen and keyboard and mouse anyways, and the 13″ isn’t too big to carry around or too heavy. That said, a Mac Mini is smaller and lighter…

    KEY POINT: 4GB or RAM isn’t enough – 8GB at least
    KEY POINT: SSD internal disk is a Very Good Thing Indeed. You can get away with as little as 128GB, but then you need an external drive.
    KEY POINT: you need at least one external drive anyway, for backup

    FWIW, my current stable of machines includes
    – a 2012 MacBookPro (used by the missus when in France), with full 16GB of RAM and a flash disk
    – a 2018 MacBook Pro, 8GB, 128GB Flash, used for biznis when I travel (and an external Merury Elite Pro Dual Mini form MacSales with a 1 TB and a 2TB drive inside)
    – a pair of 2019 Mac Mini’s with 6-core corei7’s and (currently) 16GB of RAM and 512 GB SSD (and the same external drive as above). The pair is one for USA, one for Normandy
    – a late 2012 Mac Mini with 16GB of RAM and a 1TB hard disk. Used to serve music to the house
    – a Mac Mini 2018 with 8 GB, a 6-core i5 processor, and a 512 GB SSD intenral storage (used by the missus in the USA)

    They all run Catalina – most recent OS – except the old MacBook Pro

    That should cover the major points. More details, email me 🙂

  5. … oh, and yes, there have been reports of flaky keyboards on MacBook Pros as noted by Andrew M…..

    If she plans to throw the thing away in a few years, and get a modern one, the 2012 MacBook Pro is fine, if a little heavy. It **won’t** run Mac OS Catalina, but it does the one before (I theenk) which is not so far behind that it’s a problem **yet**

  6. Doesn’t iMovie on the iPad do all of that?

    As for Windows, it’s find doing video editing on an 8GB machine.

  7. BoM4

    Good point.

    A recent iPad might well do that quite nicely – en principe.

    But I’m blinded by my own biases, which is that (for this sort of thing and almost anything except consumption (maps, books, looking at photos etc etc etc) ) a mouse and a large screen and… is much better than a finger on a greasy iPad…

  8. I would honestly recommend *not* buying used Macs (of any type). Unless you desperately need to be able to use Final Cut Pro specifically.

    Apple has consistently had quality problems, a policy of deliberately preventing upgrades, thermal throttling, etc. That’s on top of preventing third party repairs and having a stance of ‘get the customer to buy a new one’ when you take it into an Apple store or an AARP.

  9. Off topic. But hilarious. Soapy Joe has killed a fox with a baseball bat.

    Which sounds like it needs a punchline but that’s it.

  10. Andrew

    What an utter fucking cvnt Maugham is. Why would you tweet that if you’re a leftie like him – did he stop to think what the reaction might have been? The preening peacocking twat just can’t bear to keep his thoughts to himself.

  11. No need for a laptop. If she already has an iPad/iPhone, video editing and upload are possible on those. (Depends on age/model, of course.)

  12. There’s a ton of video editing software out there.Look at the software first, then the hardware.
    Is she trying to put off going to an audition for three years or is she doing serious choreography?

  13. I think that BlokeInTejas has the best overview.

    I still use a Late 2013 / 2.6GHz Core i5 / 500GB SSD MacBook Pro as my main machine. I kitted it out with 16GB RAM at the time, but I rarely need more than 8GB.

    For video editing, you want a fast drive (so SSD is best) and a fast processor (e.g. an i7 might be better). Having said that, I do a little amateur video work on my machine from time to time, and it operates fine.

    Actually, I do the same on my work Mac Mini (which is mid-2011)—and that runs 8GB RAM and was upgraded to a SSD.

    You can be relatively low-spech’d with a Mac because the software (and iMovie is fine, and free) is highly optimised for the hardware.


  14. blokeintejas,

    “But I’m blinded by my own biases, which is that (for this sort of thing and almost anything except consumption (maps, books, looking at photos etc etc etc) ) a mouse and a large screen and… is much better than a finger on a greasy iPad…”

    Oh, yeah. Definitely better. But if she’s only going to do it occasionally, is it worth the investment and extra clutter?

  15. BoM4

    Dunno. Up to our host to enquire, innit?

    But it *is* sad to see such signs of computer poverty amongst the influential…..

  16. BlokeInTejas,

    “But it *is* sad to see such signs of computer poverty amongst the influential…..”

    I wouldn’t spend any more than £500 on a laptop. I run on a Thinkpad T440 with 8GB of RAM. You pick them up for £300 second hand. Spending £1700 on a P53 would make little difference. Those are great machines, but it’s mostly about slightly faster CPUs and much better graphics cards. If you’re not working with things like CG, it won’t make much difference. Even having eSATA vs SATA only really makes a difference on huge files, which I’m generally not working with.

  17. BoM4

    Good general principle if you’ve already sold your soul to Microsoft. But for historical reasons I’m a Mac guy.

    I made a mistook in my list of machines; the “2012” Macbook Pro is actually a 2011, and I wouldn’t have bought the 2018 laptop if I hadn’t left the effing 2011 in France (suitcases heavy and full). I did buy the 2011 new, though.

  18. RAM is actually pretty important for Mac OS. Older processors will run perfectly well if you have adequate RAM. If you are going to be doing video and music, you will want 16gb. Although the keyboard is not the best, the Touch Bar is also quite useful for video and music.

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